Fashion shows are showbiz again. Donatella Versace staged the first post-pandemic blockbuster, with singer Dua Lipa, winner of five Brits and two Grammys, wearing a slashed black dress and safety-pin earrings on the catwalk in a homage to the red carpet dress that made Elizabeth Hurley famous 27 years ago.
The Friday evening show, which also featured Lourdes Leon, Madonna’s daughter, is rumoured to be the first of two Versace appearances at Milan fashion week.
The brand is said to be collaborating with Fendi for a joint “secret” show co-designed by the Donatella Versace and Fendi creative directors Kim Jones and Silvia Venturini Fendi. Cryptic gold-and-white invitations signed simply “Donatella” and summoning guests to “something special” on Sunday evening are being scrutinised for clues.
“Fersace” – as the collaboration is already being called – would be a powerful show of Italian solidarity. With Milan in the eye of the storm when Covid-19 arrived in Europe last spring, the industry has been badly shaken by the pandemic. A collaboration between two rival houses in a historically cut-throat industry would be a symbol of a new spirit of togetherness.
Two months ago, Kim Kardashian – who may or may not be involved in the venture, depending on who you believe – sparked rumours when she posted a photo of herself with Versace and Jones in Rome. Neither Fendi nor Versace have denied reports of Sunday’s show.
Fashion designer duets are hot right now. A Gucci show in April featured a silver trouser suit with the name of rival fashion brand Balenciaga emblazoned in sequins across it – the catwalk equivalent of Adidas putting a Nike swoosh on a trainer.
Homage to Hurley: Dua Lipa. Photograph: Alessandro Garofalo/Reuters
In response, Balenciaga is now selling an almost exact copy of Gucci’s iconic Jackie bag, only with the GG logo in the monogram replaced by a BB. However, both Balenciaga and Gucci are owned by Kering. A Fendi x Versace tie-up would be more surprising, because there are are no business links between the two. Fendi is part of the LVMH group, while Versace is owned by Capri Holdings, an American stable which is also home to Michael Kors and Jimmy Choo.
Prada, as usual, is ahead of the curve in the drive to collaborate. Prada has been a joint effort between two major designers since Raf Simons joined Miuccia Prada as an equal partner in the design studio last year. Their first live catwalk show as a duo was staged in duplicate, with two identical collections hitting catwalks simultaneously in Milan and Shanghai on Friday.
The message – the return of the miniskirt – was brilliantly simple, a riposte to critics who wondered if two headstrong designers would be able to co-author a strong fashion message. Short sharp skirts in matt black or vibrant yellow satin, worn barelegged with low-heel slingback sandals, were teamed with shrugged-on leather jackets or chunky knitwear. After years when long skirts have dominated fashion, Prada’s effortlessly cool minis looked seductively different.